War and History Poetry posted May 23, 2020 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 

This work has reached the exceptional level
I penned this epic poem on the fourth day of our grieving.

A chapter in the book Day Four and Other Memories of 9/11

Day Four: Hope from Ashes Part 4

by Mary Kay Bonfante

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

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When you shed our blood, when our buildings fell,
Your comrades sealed their ticket to Hell.
Confess to the Father and kiss the Son, *14
That God might forgive you the evil you've done.

In Washington, too, great tears are shed,
Where those who defend us were murdered instead. *15
Though they aimed for our leaders, they did not succeed! *16
But for the lost, our hearts scream and bleed.

Yes they tried to destroy the heart of our nation,
But dashed themselves down on our solid foundation.
And those who were killed in one plane that morning,
Saved others below -- by courage, through warning. *17

New York. Washington. Four planes full of souls.
We mourn the dead as the hearses roll. *18
And out of the ashes where loved ones would be,
Our fear turns to courage, and unity.

The children of freedom, the children of song,
We welcomed the ones who then did us wrong.
O guide us, dear God of all hope, we pray,
And comfort your people who mourn today. *19

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Poem of the Month contest entry



I know my Notes for this chapter are exceptionally long, so please feel free to skim through and read what interests you. Please read the Author's Special Note, at the bottom.

*14 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
--Psalms 2:12 KJV

*15 American Airlines Flight 77 was the third plane used to attack America on 9/11, and it flew into the western facade of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia at 9:37 a.m.
It was a Boeing 757 aircraft, en route from Washington Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, with a crew of six and 53 passengers, not including five hijackers.

In the Pentagon, 125 workers lost their lives in the attack. "Of these, 70 were civilians and 55 were military personnel, many of whom worked for the United States Army or the United States Navy. The Army lost 47 civilian employees, six civilian contractors, and 22 soldiers, while the Navy lost six civilian employees, three civilian contractors, and 33 sailors.

Seven Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) civilian employees were also among the dead in the attack, as well as an Office of the Secretary of Defense Lieutenant (OSD) contractor. Timothy Maude, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff, was the highest-ranking military official killed at the Pentagon."

*16 "Cleveland Control lost Flight 93's transponder, the signal that indicates an airplane's location and altitude." But "[a]t 9:55, the hijacker pilot set a navigational aid relating to the plane's direction. He was heading, it indicated, for Washington, D.C."

"In an April 2002 interview, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who are believed to have organized the attacks, said Flight 93's intended target was the United States Capitol, not the White House."

*17 The story of Flight 93 is a tragic one, and a courageous one, but it is, as much as any other noble story in our history, an American story. The passengers on this plane, having discovered that three other hijacked planes that morning had been used as missiles aimed at key targets on American soil, taking many lives, decided not to leave matters to chance, or in the hands of men who probably had similar plans for their flight.

Instead, they chose to sacrifice their own lives. They attempted to force the doors open and storm the cockpit, willing to bring the plane down in a field where no lives on the ground would be lost. It's unclear whether the passengers actually breached the cockpit, or whether the hijackers felt forced to crash the plane because they knew they would be overcome.

Tom Burnett, Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer were four well-built men who took a vote and decided to take on the hijackers. Meanwhile, flight attendant Sandra Bradshaw boiled water for the passengers to throw on the hijackers.

Altogether 14 of the 40 passengers and crew on Flight 93 had managed to contact either their families or the authorities during their ordeal, which lasted more than 30 minutes. During some of these conversations, they were also able to learn important information about the hijackers' intentions. They knew that Washington was the likely destination of the imminent attack.

The pilot and co-pilot also resisted the attempts of the hijackers to control the plane, despite their injuries. Notably, the pilot redirected the microphone the hijacker was using to speak to the passengers, so that it was heard by Air Traffic Control. On two occasions, the pilot attempted to cry, "Mayday! Mayday!" but was fighting with the hijackers at the controls.

Todd Beamer, probably the most well known of the passengers, prayed the Lord's Prayer with the phone supervisor to whom he was connected, before the passengers launched their counterattack. He is famous for exclaiming, "Let's roll!" as they stormed the cockpit door -- some believe, with a food cart. A lot of information about the life-or-death fight for control was obtained from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), later recovered from the fragmented wreckage.

The struggle included sounds of screaming and things breaking, as the hijacking pilots attempted to throw the oncoming passengers off-balance by rocking the plane back and forth. Finally the plane crashed into a field near a reclaimed strip mine in Stonycreek Township, near Indian Lake and Shanksville, about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Pittsburgh and 130 miles (210 km) northwest of Washington, D.C.

"Vice President Dick Cheney, in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center deep under the White House, authorized Flight 93 to be shot down, but upon learning of the crash, is reported to have said, 'I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane.'" Flight number "93" was discontinued by United Airlines after the hijacking.

"All passengers and crew on board Flight 93 were nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal on September 19, 2001. Congressman Bill Shuster introduced a bill to this effect in 2006, and they were granted on September 11, 2014."

One of the passengers, Lauren Grandcolas, was three months pregnant at the time of the attack, which had to make it incredibly difficult for her, knowing that both she and her unborn child were about to die.

CeeCee Lyles was one of the flight attendants on board. In 2003, a statue of Lyles was unveiled in her hometown of Fort Pierce, Florida, which has gained national recognition as one of many monuments to the attacks. She was married with two sons and two stepsons.

It should be noted that Flight 93 was the only hijacked flight on 9/11 which had four hijackers, instead of five. This worked in favor of those who fought back. Mohammed al-Qahtani, sometimes known as the "20th hijacker," was detained by officials in Florida and refused admission into the U.S.

Because he had a one-way ticket and only $2,800, it was suspected that al-Qahtani intended to remain in the U.S. illegally, and was sent back to Dubai. It is a testament to the careful work of those doing their duty at the airport, that he wasn't on the plane. He was captured in Afghanistan in the Battle of Tora Bora, detained and as of May 2018, was still imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Possible targets of the hijackers on Flight 93 included the White House, Camp David and the U.S. Capitol building. On September 11, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence, formerly a U.S. senator, spoke to a gathering of family and friends of Flight 93 victims about his gratitude.

"Learning that the Capitol was a possible target of the hijacked plane and only 12 minutes away by air, he said, 'It was the longest 12 minutes of my life... Without regard to personal safety, they [the victims] rushed forward to save lives... I will always believe that I and many others in our nation's capital were able to go home that day and hug our families because of the courage and sacrifice of the heroes of Flight 93.'"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_93 (especially the quoted material)

*18 Taps, in Arlington National Cemetery

The Minstrel Boy, Pipes and Drums

"The Minstrel Boy" is one of the most popular songs heard at funerals where bagpipes are played, especially the funerals of first responders. Here are the lyrics of this famous Irish tune:

"The minstrel boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you'll find him
His father's sword he hath girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him

"'Land of Song!' cried the warrior bard
'Should all the world betray thee
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard
One faithful harp shall praise thee!'

"The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again
For he tore its chords asunder

"And said 'No chains shall sully thee
Thou soul of love and brav'ry
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery.'"

by Thomas Moore,
set to the melody of "The Moreen," an old Irish air.

During the American Civil War, a third verse was written by an unknown author, and is sometimes included in renditions of the song:

"The Minstrel Boy will return we pray
When we hear the news we all will cheer it,
The minstrel boy will return one day,
Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit.
Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended."

*18 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
--Isaiah 40:1 KJV

May we be comforted by the Word of God spoken through Isaiah, as needed both in times of battle, and in other times of grief and loss, such as we are going through as a nation, and indeed, throughout the world, during this pandemic.

This verse was beautifully expressed in the world famous classical, Handel's "Messiah." Please enjoy this segment:

Let us especially remember our military heroes who died during 9/11 and the wars that followed; all wars and conflicts; all those who have served with honor; and our first responders who have served in many capacities, including the medical staff who have put their own lives on the line for others, especially these past few months:
Memorial Day Bagpipes, Amazing Grace

Author's Special Note:
This is the fourth and final part of "Day Four: Hope from Ashes." I began sharing it before the reality of the pandemic had set in here in the United States, and by the time I posted Part 3, we were already feeling threatened. I didn't have the heart to share the rest of the poem, feeling that we can only consider one disaster at a time.

However, since the pandemic has lasted longer than anyone would have expected, with glimmers of hope for some relief, and it was Memorial Day weekend, I felt it was a good time to share the rest of my epic poem.

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© Copyright 2020. Mary Kay Bonfante All rights reserved.
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